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At 116, Netaji's aide oldest man on planet?

by April 18, 2016 General

Varanasi: Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose’s aide, Nizamuddin, at 116 years of age, could be the oldest living man on the planet, going by the documents his family has submitted to State Bank of India’s branch near Dhakwa village in Azamgarh district of UP.

The bank has entered Nizamuddin’s date of birth as January 1, 1900, which makes him older than the oldest man in 2016 as per the Guinness Book of Records: 112-year-old Israel Kristal of Israel.

While Kristal lived through the two World Wars before moving to Israel, Nizamuddin fought for the country’s freedom in Singapore and Burma (now Myanmar) as a soldier in Netaji’s Indian National Army (INA), before returning to his native Azamgarh from Rangoon in 1969. He also worked as Bose’s driver and bodyguard.

“We opened babuji’s bank account at age of 116 years to see the happiness on his face. Also, the family has applied for pension,” said Nizamuddin’s son Akram Shaikh. The family submitted Nizamuddin’s repatriation certificate from INA as age proof which the bank accepted.

Nizamuddin’s wife Habibunnisa, a Myanmarese national of Indian origin, is 109 years old.

The certificate was issued by S V Swami, chairman of Relief and Repatriation Council, Ex-Azad Hind Fauj and Allied Organisation, Rangoon, and was Nizamuddin’s only identity proof until some time ago when he also got his voter I-D card made.

“We don’t know if my father is the oldest man in the world but I am getting calls from people in this connection,” Akram told TOI. The family has not contacted the compilers of the Guinness Book yet.

Nizamuddin says he served Netaji as his bodyguard and driver during the INA days. Bose was born in 1897, which would make him just three years older than Netaji.

Nizamuddin is the eldest surviving son of three children of Imam Ali. Nizamuddin went to Singapore when he was 16 or 17 and began helping his father in running a canteen. Later, he joined the British Army where he worked for several years. It was Netaji’s call to uproot British rule that made him join INA.

Interestingly, Nizamuddin never accepted the theory of Netaji’s death in the Taihoku air crash in 1945. He claimed he had dropped Netaji on the banks of Sitangpur river near Burma-Thailand border after the reported crash. After that, he returned to Rangoon, and settled there after marrying Habibunnisa. He has four sons and three daughters. He worked as a tourist guide in Burma before returning to Azamgarh in 1969.